Mauldin's classic portrait of the World War II combat soldier is being reissued in this facsimile edition to coincide with the 50th anniversary of V-E Day on April 29. Though Mauldin was known for his cartoons of dogfaces "Willie" and "Joe," reviewers praised his prose, with the New York Times calling Up Front a "vigorous, brash, youthful but excellent book."
Reprised here is the classic saga of Willie and Joe, Mauldin's GI "dogfaces" who slogged their way through cartoons set in Italy and France. For frontline black humor, the pair's war-weary image--slouched shoulders, dented helmets, torn uniforms, month-old beards, booze bottle in hand--combined with Mauldin's starkly angular, expressionistic shading and mordant captions yielded an ineffable effect matched by no other illustrator in World War II. He drew them originally for "Stars and Stripes", the U.S. Army's newspaper, and many a picture annoyed top brass who wanted to censor him for tweaking the officers' naiveteabout combat or their privileges in rear areas. He wrote the text for folks back home, explaining the background of incidents inspiring his black-and-white palette, and trenchantly sketched out the character of the average infantryman fighting the great crusade. To dogfaces, talk of the "cause" was alien; surviving was the only form of winning. Mauldin's book epitomizes their war. A time-proven and memorable contemporary piece.